Substance abuse doesn’t happen in a vacuum. A marriage is usually the first relationship to suffer when one of the partners falls victim to addiction. In the case of someone who isn’t married, the affected family systems include parents and siblings. For an effective rehab experience and subsequent lifelong sobriety, family therapy is necessary.

family working through issues in family systems therapy

Therapy for an Adverse Family Situation

Family systems aren’t universally healthy. Case in point is the person struggling with an addiction who receives enabling from another family member. The family member won’t allow you to experience the natural consequences of public drunkenness or acting out in front of others. He or she may make excuses for you or pay your legal fines.

Another adverse situation is the substance abuse that goes on in a family where multiple individuals use. When one tries to break out of the addiction cycle, the other(s) will try to prevent it. This dynamic can take the form of threats or even physically acting out. When you’re not willing or able to cut ties, family therapy is a must.

Returning Family Systems to Balance

Within a family, there needs to be a balance. This understanding goes beyond doing chores and making sure the kids get from point A to point B. Instead, it refers to the mutual understanding that all parties work together for the common good. When substance abuse is present in a relationship, it creates an imbalance that a rehab setting tries to address during family therapy.

Typically, some family problems crop up during rehab and afterward. Therapy can anticipate some of them while actively dealing with the ones that currently exist, including:

  • Communication problems. In the past, you and your loved ones may have constantly walked on eggshells to avoid conflict. With sobriety now in the works, both parties may dig up old hurts and problems. Accusations, finger pointing, and expressions of resentment easily become triggers unless therapists help the parties deal with them.
  • Intimacy issues. The desire to start or add to a family creates stress. The absence of a substance that would loosen up a person can also result in problems. Because of this, individuals sometimes have to work through sexual health in recovery. Infidelity is another issue that both parties may need to work through.
  • Feelings of neglect. Family members may feel neglected because the individual seeking treatment receives all the attention. Teenagers can feel like the family is leaving them out to pay attention to mom, dad, or a sibling.
  • Difficulty settling into sobriety. For the individual pursuing sobriety, there is the challenge of finding a place in the household. The other person there typically takes on tasks and processes out of necessity. By changing and integrating them into a pre-sobriety flow of family life, the now-sober individual feels like an outsider.

How Does Family Therapy Work?

Restoring family systems to a working order requires each member to embrace ongoing changes. During family therapy, the facilitator strives to get a buy-in from all parties and overcome objections. There are different ages to consider and varying levels of commitment. For this reason, therapists mix and match different approaches, depending on a family’s needs.

  • Problem-solving sessions. The entire family meets with the therapist to discuss problems that the addiction caused. Seeking solutions becomes a group effort.
  • Art therapy. For the family member who has a difficult time expressing thoughts and feelings, art therapy can be useful.
  • Play therapy (for children). Young children frequently also suffer when their parents abuse substances. Play therapy, rather than standard talk therapy, is a good option.
  • Education about stressors. Because relapse prevention is a family effort, the unit as a whole learns about stressors.

Get Your Life and Family Systems Back on Track

If you’re a victim of substance abuse, you can change your life. Don’t let alcohol or drugs destroy your family. In fact, when you call Crestview Recovery today, you can take the first step toward healthy change. Call 866-262-0531 now to connect with a knowledgeable therapist.